Awaken: An E-Book from Alive in the Fire

Hi, friends! Some exciting news today on Alive in the Fire...

I'm now offering an e-book!

Are you feeling a little lost? Lacking direction or motivation? Or maybe you could just use a few moments of deep rest, of looking inward?

This one's for you!

Inherent to the practice of yoga is the element of Svadhyaya, or self-inquiry. We explore layers of awareness through physical sensation, breath, emotion, and thought. 

In this 20-page workbook, I will lead you through a unique experience of yoga that includes asana (poses), meditation, chanting/sound vibration, and creative writing. 

You’ll explore questions such as, what am I here for? What’s holding me back? Do I trust my inner wisdom? How can I release fear?

Asking these questions isn't easy work to do. We can start by creating a quiet space, breathing, and connecting with the physical body.

What we find can be beautiful and enlightening... it may also be painful or make us feel vulnerable, raw, or overwhelmed. It becomes our task, then, to trust the outcome and trust our inner wisdom. Sometimes we must walk through the fire in order to gain clarity. 

My goal in offering this e-book is to extend a little piece of my yoga teaching into this community I've created here at Alive in the Fire, and help however many yogis I can experience a little more peace in their day-to-day lives. 

It's $3 to purchase the e-book, and my hope is that it is a practical, useful tool that can enhance your yoga practice and help you discover something new about yourself along the way.

As always, I'm open to your feedback and would love to hear from you if you try out the e-book and want to share your experience (my email is aliveinthefire at gmail dot com).

Please check out the link below to support the project.

Sending each of you a heartfelt Namaste.

Buy Now

For Days When You Feel like Sh*t

When you get stuck in a bad mood, what helps you get 'unstuck?'

Some days, I want to crawl back in bed by 9am, yell at other drivers on the road, give up, cry in the bathroom, crumple up my to-do list, run away, throw my phone in the garbage, or just drink wine even though it's only noon.

Recently, while I was having a bad day, I stumbled across a post from Rachel Brathen (Yoga Girl) about having bad moments, not bad days. She had compiled a list of things that helps her move on when things aren't going her way.

I loved how she put it: "Own it. Feel it. Get out of it."

Such a helpful reminder! When we feel stuck in a terrible mood, we do have the choice to try and shift out of it.

So, I made my own list, and I'm planning to refer back to it the next time I'm feeling stuck. Hope these ideas are helpful to you, too (whether it's a Monday or not a Monday!).

Sh*t to Do When I'm Having a Sh*t Day
  • Breathe. Pause to notice my body. When I feel angry or frustrated, I tend to breathe less. Or, if I'm anxious, I might even hold my breath. Simply sitting down and choosing to take five deep breaths can make a big difference in giving myself the time to become aware of how my body feels. I do a quick scan, head to toe, to see what I notice. It helps to pause the thoughts, notice the body, and increase the breath.

  • Get outside. Or at least get out of the house. If I'm near a walking path, a beach, or a park, I'll go there. I sit in the sunshine and notice the sounds around me. I try to notice the other people, too, and that I am not alone.
  • Practice yoga. If the thought creeps in, "I don't want to," or, "I can't today," ignore it. I roll out my mat anyway. If I can get to the studio, I go take a class and I do my best to let the teacher and the yogis around me hold space for me. I do my favorite poses, ten minutes minimum. Sun salutations are great for getting the spine moving, which shifts energy in the body.

  • Invert. Getting upside down has a physical effect on the brain, and it can help shift your mood. I like to take headstand for at least 8-10 breaths. Headstand doesn't make things perfect, or even change my circumstances, but it certainly offers me a momentary shift in perspective.

  • Be around animals. Animals don't judge you, and they listen. They love unconditionally. Give your dog a walk, or a hug, and see if it can help you smile, even if only for a moment.

  • Make a list. Start with the things that are bothering the most. Notice, how are they related to your fears or insecurities? When I write about these things, it tends to help me realize what negative thoughts are making me feel stuck. Sometimes I even like to write down those thoughts and then draw a big fat line through them, as a reminder that my mind is not in a truthful space. It's almost like telling my thoughts, "NO, you're wrong" and it helps me move forward. The alternative list you can make: shit I accomplished today! Yeah, taking a shower counts! So does getting dressed, eating a nourishing meal, and putting your dishes in the dishwasher!
  • Rest. A lot of times I get in a shitty mood because I've been going too fast and too hard for too long. I'm exhausted. My body is suffering, or tired, or hurting. Taking a short nap, a hot bath, or a night off can make a big difference in getting back into a good mood.
  • Get off of social media. Social media encourages us to compare ourselves to everyone around us. If I'm having a shit day, seeing other people smiling about all the happy things they're up to doesn't tend to help. One trick I use is to put the icons for Facebook and Instagram on a different 'page' of my phone, so I have to scroll a couple times to get to them. That way, I can't just mindlessly click to look at notifications. Trust that spending some time away from the stories and input of those around you will give you clarity.
  • Talk through it. Usually the thing that helps me the most is to call, text, or talk to someone who loves me unconditionally. Opening up and voicing what my concerns are-- it really takes the pressure off. I try to be selective about who I talk to, and choose someone that is going to listen and be supportive, not try to change the situation for me or make me feel guilty, upset, or ashamed.
  • Give yourself some small token of appreciation, or pause for a moment to celebrate. I like to wear jewelry as a reminder of what mantra I'm trying to keep in my mind, or put on a piece of clothing that makes me feel beautiful, or confident. Or I go to a coffee shop and buy myself a coffee, and focus on the fact that I deserve to feel good for a part of my day. It can also be helpful to pause and ask, "What's going well today? Anything?" and even if the answer is that I was able to get laundry done, I pause for a moment to celebrate that damn laundry. 
  • Let yourself off the hook for doing a whole damn list, and just do one thing that feels good. Maybe none of these things are going to help me get out of a bad mood today. So, move on from those, and do one thing that will help. When you take a moment to ask yourself what that one thing is, you'll know. Just go do it.
  • And, because it's worth repeating, remind yourself: YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH, YOU ARE ENOUGH, YOU ARE LOVED.

Next time you're feeling caught between a rock and a hard place, just stuck in a shitty mood, try these things, or make your own list of ways you can push through. And then don't forget to do them :) While thinking about them is a helpful first step, it's the doing them that will really help.

Sending you big hugs, my friend.

Photos via Pinterest and by Justin Kral and Respiro Photography.

You're Invited to Join the Alive in the Fire Email Newsletter

Happy Monday, yogis! Hope you had a beautiful weekend.

I wanted to take a moment to invite you to join my email newsletter! :) Exciting times... it only took me 5+ years to get my act together as a blogger and get an email list going. Ha!

In all honesty, I would love if you join the list... you guys are the reason I write and you make this community what it is. :) I'll be sharing updates with recent blog posts, ideas for kicking your yoga practice into gear, info about my upcoming coastal yoga retreat (!!!), and other fun updates. There's a signup form below, and a spot in the sidebar at the right where you can always sign up.

Alive in the Fire Newsletter

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Thanks, as always for being a part of Alive in the Fire! Namaste.

Photos in this post by Brynna Bryant and Tom Huynh.

Yoga is a Daring Act of Courage

Photos by The Lost Coast.

Are you willing to get your feet dirty? 

Are you willing to risk falling?  

What parts of your ego are you willing to surrender? 

This practice of Yoga is not always pretty; in my experience, it is messy, embarrassing, risky, and humbling. 

Yoga is not simply being able to say, 'I can hold the pose effortlessly'... it is also being able to say, 'This pose took years, but I kept trying,' or, 'I'm terrified, but I'm doing this anyway.' Or even, 'This pose may never happen in my body, but I'm not letting myself be defined by that.'

Yoga is a daring act of staring fear down and not letting it win. 

Yoga is the willingness to love yourself even when you fail miserably.

Yoga happens when you are facing a situation that feels impossible, something you can't imagine surviving -- like the loss of a loved one, a divorce, an injury that changes your life, an unplanned pregnancy, a fire that consumes your house.

Even though everything is messed up and you're making mistakes and crying alone in the bathroom at night, you're willing to feel everything that is happening. You're willing to stay present, and you even manage to love yourself in the small moments when you feel more alive than you have in years.

It is in these moments -- when your feet are covered in dirt and the ground is slipping out beneath you-- that you're truly in your practice. Not the easy, comfortable, flat wooden floors at the yoga studio. The part when you're barefoot in the cold. The part where you step on a piece of glass and have to call out because it hurts so much. 

The part when you fall, and somehow, you get back up.

All this... all your willingness to keep going, to try again, to stay true to who you are... this is Yoga.

Honoring the Fire Within (Yogi Surprise August and a Core Sequence)

Do you live life in a way that's 'alive in the fire?'

When I started this blog, I named it according to the way that I want to walk through life: with passion. With fearlessness. With a radiant glow in my heart that impacts everything I do.

Feeling 'alive in the fire' means I am in tune with my own fiery energy, my willingness, the life force I carry.

I'm so grateful that this month Yogi Surprise themed their box around honoring the fire within, on summertime excitement and love. A perfect match for my lovely little yoga blog!

My favorite items from this month's box are the yoga sequencing card made by the team at Yogi Surprise, the Aura Cacia Revive body cloths, and the Neelu Kaur Yogini Bliss essential oil perfume roller.

Yogi Surprise constantly impresses me with the yogic knowledge they share in their boxes and on their website and social media. Of course I'm grateful for all of the goodies that come in the boxes themselves, but I think my favorite thing about the brand is that they truly offer wisdom -- they are the 'real deal' when it comes to talking about yoga, meditation and wellness practices!

The sequence of core strengthening poses that they shared is great for awakening the digestive fire in the body, and pairs well with some of the products included in the box. Try these poses to wake up your energy!
  • Plank
  • Bridge
  • Bicycling (reclined core work)
  • Bow
  • Boat
  • Knees to chest

After this sweaty practice, the body cloths and perfume roller are perfect for cooling down, refreshing, and carrying on about the day with a feeling of empowerment and divine love!

Thank you, Yogi Surprise, for rocking the August box with some (alive in the) fiery inspiration! Namaste.

Badass Women: Sarah

Meet the lovely and fierce Sarah, featured today in the Badass Women series. When I started this series on the blog, Sarah was one of the first women I thought of... not only is she an incredible yoga teacher, but she is also a martial artist and expert pastry chef, a singer, a soon-to-be-mom, and a generous friend. 

Even without knowing all of these things about Sarah, when I first met her I knew that she was someone I wanted to spend more time with. Her wisdom and playful sense of humor are infectious, and I'm grateful that each time I see her I'm reminded to live in the moment, and to make no compromises. 

Thank you, Sarah, for your humble and open heart, and for sharing your story.

What does it mean to be badass?
To me, it's resourcefulness. To use whatever means you have as fuel, sustenance, building blocks, and to make things work that aren't supposed to - whether it's color combinations in art, or beating the odds in a situation. 

There's a verse from the Yoga Sutra that's always stuck with me, that 'One who is firmly established in yoga, could tell a lie, and it would become true through the power of their conviction.'

It's an alchemy of using the imagination, combined with real blood, sweat and tears to create the self we want to be, and the world we want to live in. Meditative discernment + unglamorous diligence = badassery. 

What badass things do you love to do, or have you done? 

I don't "love" to do badass things. They come out of a place of defiance. I had a choice early on in life: break down and be crushed by circumstance, or find a way to survive. Survival necessitated a certain level of what some people might call badass-ness, but I just did what I had to. I lost my family and my home, was dropped into a foreign country, knew no one, didn't speak the language. I didn't adjust well. I resisted everything.

I found creative outlets, difficult teachers, and pushed myself beyond reasonable limits, mostly to distract myself from my life. I write music. I do martial arts. I make wedding cakes. I ride motorcycles and pilot aircraft. I learn languages. I go to comic book conventions. I study military history and natural sciences. I've walked in freshly excavated fossilized dinosaur tracks in Texas. Ive had art exhibitions. I've performed on a movie soundtrack with a 200-piece orchestra backing me up - from Prague. I was a paramedic/firefighter. I learned handguns and knives from a French Foreign Legionnaire - from Austrailia. 

I've moved around, constantly, to gain new experiences and learn new skills, but I always knew it was a crutch for my inability to be still, and let myself feel anything. Yoga studies, Buddhist logic, a lot of reading and meditation held up a mirror to all that, and I've been working on being still since 2002. Most people's challenge is to break free of their attachments. Mine has been to allow myself to be free of my "attachment to non-attachment", and to feel like I deserve to make a home for myself in the world.

What advice have you been given by badass women in your life?
Jennifer Arfa, author and Buddhist yogini, told me, when you find the man you think you want to marry - tell him, you're "just not sure... Not ready to commit... Maybe should just be friends." I thought it sounded inauthentic and conniving at the time, but it happened for me. I told my (now) husband "I wasn't sure, that he should date other people, it might not work out"... And he committed to pursuing me like his life depended on it. I was honest when I told him to scram; I just didn't anticipate that, when I was ready to let the relationship go, that moment was the catalyst for it to get stronger than we ever imagined. Both Ed and I reflect that if we hadn't had that dark period, we wouldn't understand how deep our commitment could be, or what we were truly willing to do for one another. 

My Grandmother told me to go to nursing school. I didn't exactly follow it, but it was good advice. 

My Catholic, Sunday-school teaching mother told me, that God doesn't just shell out talents to just anybody, and that if you have a gift, you are obligated to use it - or it's a sin of ungratefulness towards God. I was seven. I said "so if I don't sing, I go to Hell?" She replied squarely, "yes". I got the message, that Hell is knowing you're not living up to your potential. And that heaven, could possibly be using your skills to the fullest here on Earth. 

My mother died when I was thirteen. That taught me never to take anyone, or anything, for granted. She taught me a lot without teaching, in the way she lived and died. No complaints. Simply moved forward, along a difficult path, with a humility, strength and grace I can only aspire to. 

What advice would you share with others about how to live life to the fullest?
Get knocked down. Hit bottom so hard you don't know which way is up. Don't fight the fact that life hurts. Accept it, and fight for your breath. Don't complain. Take responsibility. Let yourself spend enough time in darkness that you understand how precious the light is, and then never let it go. 

I wish there were any other way on the spiritual path, but it's all unicorns farting rainbows until you've actually been battle tested by life. The grief of life is happiness playing hard to get, to find out how badly you want it. Don't settle. 

If you're angry with life, with God, with whoever, my mantra has been that "the best vengeance... Is to live a beautiful life." Don't let the bad guys win. Don't let mediocrity win. It's a war I fight every day, internally and externally, and it gives me cause to celebrate both my victories, and my noble failures along the way. Usually with libation. (That's the Irish in me speaking.) 

What things do you do to take care of yourself and stay inspired?
I exercise. I spend time admiring nature and sky. I read stories of brilliant human spirits - most recently, The Lions Gate by Steven Pressfield about the Israeli military during the Six Day War. I go to museums. I listen to music that  takes me unexpected places. I seek out the company of people I look up to and want to be more like. I eat simple at home, but love being a foodie when I'm out. I treat myself to froufrou skin products. It's a second chakra thing.

In the next year or two, what badass plans will you make a reality?
One of my teachers, Carolyn Myss, says "if you want to make God laugh - tell him about your plans." I am a planner—I strategize constantly—but, there are too many variables in life to really, truly ever know what's next. The life I currently live, is one I would have thought terribly unlikely only 3 years ago. That being said, it's a lot brighter than I imagined! 

I plan to have a baby (I'm 2 months pregnant with my first) but even that, isn't a given. I will be privileged and blessed if all goes well with baby. I plan to create music for a series of online yoga videos I intend to film. I'm planning to continue to make art out of sugar in the pastry world ( I plan to fall further in love with my husband Ed. I intend to keep a finger on the yoga pulse of Roseville to see where I can make history with the other pioneers. I plan to be surprised and grateful at all the things I couldn't possibly plan, and never saw coming. I feel like it's a great day when I can say, "WowI never saw THAT coming!" 

Thank you, Sarah, for your inspiring stories! I am so grateful for you. 
PS Read about more Badass Women. Cheers to living life fearlessly!

Photos courtesy of Sarah.

Badass Women

Photo by Brynna Bryant of Respiro Photography.

Welcome to a new series on Alive in the Fire that's all about badass women. :)

I am constantly impressed by women in my life who are courageously pursuing their dreams and doing what makes them most happy. Women I've known all my life, women in my community, and even women who I've met very recently or only met online through this blog. 

Women who are teachers, mothers, writers, warriors, business owners, leaders, artists, yogini goddesses... beautiful women of all ages, shapes, backgrounds, who have experienced a diversity of successes and struggles in life.

These women are badass. They aren't afraid to take risks. Or maybe they are, but they do it anyway. They know their strengths and don't let fear run the show. They create art and think big and sometimes break the rules. They live life to its fullest, go for wild adventures, and wear their hearts on their sleeves.

I love, too, that these women understand the importance of loving and caring for themselves, and that they take time to balance their busy schedules with moments of rest and relaxation.

These women are inspiring and encouraging, and I'm so grateful to be able to share their stories. I hope that you'll enjoy their positive energy and bright ideas over the weeks to come. As always, I welcome your feedback and encourage you to share these posts with other women you know. As women, we've got to support each other in being badass!

Photo here and below by Brynna Bryant of Respiro Photography.

To kick off the series, I'd love to share my own post on being a badass. After all, this is my fearless year :)

What makes you a badass?
My relentless positive attitude. I believe others are inspired by my encouraging, uplifting spirit. 

It sounds silly, but sometimes I watch people around me notice my hair and my tattoos and the sparkle in my eye and I swear I can see its effect on them. Like at the grocery store. I'll have strangers at the grocery store smile at me, and I love that feeling, that I've brought joy to someone else just by being 'me.' 

I see it with my students after yoga class of course, too, and with my family and friends. Recently someone told me, 'You have such great energy!' and that made me feel so happy. Being the calm, peaceful person I am and being recognized as that is so empowering. Being badass is about being confident in yourself, and that's something I can honestly say is true for me at this moment in my life. I'm confident in who I am. I stay positive and I don't give up. And I share that sense of joy and peace with others around me.

How did you get where you are today? 
I believe devotion is a big part of it. Devoting myself to the path of yoga, focusing on my intentions, working my ass off, and believing in myself. Also remembering to stay humble and to ask for help when I need it. We all experience suffering -- goodness knows I've had some really dark times in my life. It's important to remember that we're in community with others for a reason. I wouldn't be where I am today without the support of my loved ones and my yoga community.

What do you do for yourself to rejuvenate?
My favorite things for rejuvenation are massage, Reiki, taking breaks from my phone, going to a Yin class, and journaling.

What advice do you have for others who are looking to find happiness and become fully empowered?
Clarify your vision. Get really clear on what you want. And then be kind to yourself in the process. 

If you're unhappy with something in your life, first you have to believe that changing it is possible. Tell yourself it's already real. When I realized I wanted to become a yoga teacher, I told my teacher at the time about my dream and she said, 'Perfect! Now you're a teacher!' She challenged me to start thinking of it that way in the present moment, rather than waiting or delaying or worrying about the 'what-ifs.' Before I'd ever even researched teacher trainings or led a class, she had me coming to yoga and considering it from the teacher's perspective and that shifted everything. 

You already have all the tools you need; I tell my students all the time, 'Everything you seek is within your reach.' Sometimes the part you're missing is awareness. What do you really want? And what fears are holding you back? It's a matter of understanding those things, and also finding a sense of gratitude for all the blessings you currently have. Make gratitude lists. Start each day with a list of 10 things you love. Doing this has always helped me shift my perspective so that I can move forward even on days when I'm struggling.

 Photo by Jobi Otso.

How do you plan to continue your baddass-ery? ;)

The more I love myself and others, the more impact I can have. I want to continue making my healing journey a priority, and developing my skills as a yoga teacher and a Reiki healer so that I can hold space for others. I always want to be learning new things.
Photo by T. Libertiny.

Coming soon in the Badass Women series... a magazine writer living in NYC, an entrepreneur from Chicago, and a massage therapist/esthetician from northern California, all of whom I adore :)

Stay tuned, lovely yogis! 

JadeBloom Essential Oils Giveaway

Photos via JadeBloom and Pinterest.

Aromatherapy is a powerful and simple way to bring healing to your body, mind and spirit. Scents lift our mood, and stimulate certain processes in the body.

Today Jade Bloom is generously offering a giveaway to one lucky Alive in the Fire reader. The winner will receive the 4 most popular JadeBloom oils: Kashmir Lavender, Peppermint, Lemon, and RELIEF respiratory blend.

To enter, please visit the JadeBloom website and leave a comment below listing your favorite item. For an extra entry, you can post a link to this giveaway on Facebook or Twitter (be sure to mention it in your comment below!).

JadeBloom is my go-to brand for high-quality, reasonably-priced essential oils. They have a variety of essential oils, including floral oils, citrus oils and blends targeted at certain outcomes, like offering stress relief or an immunity boost.

Essential oils have a lot of uses, including pain relief, natural beauty, hair health, and natural disinfectant.  And of course they're used with massage therapy, Reiki healing, and for relaxing at-home baths! :)

Lately I've been enjoying scents like lavender, vanilla, lemon and eucalyptus.

What are your favorite scents? Have you ever tried essential oils?

Be sure to leave a comment below to be entered to win 4 lovely JadeBloom oils, and share this post with friends, family and fellow yogis. Namaste.

Indie Spiritualist: A No Bullshit Exploration of Spirituality (Book Review)

Photos via Indie Spiritualist website and on Facebook.

“You were born to be real, not to be perfect.”
Chris GrossoIndie Spiritualist

Being true with ourselves is so important. This has been surfacing again and again in my life lately: how, at a very deep level, yoga is a practice of being real.

For all its fancy postures and esoteric spiritual practices, yoga is, quite simply, a way of tuning in to what exactly is happening in the present moment. 

I may be on my mat, in a posture (asana), feeling what it feels like to breathe (pranayama). Or maybe I'm choosing to treat others with kindness (ahimsa) in a moment where I want to react in anger.

Yoga helps us detach from needing everything to be perfect, and instead just to feel, to allow, to explore, to truly connect.

I recently received a copy of Chris Grosso's book, Indie Spiritualist and it's one of my new favorites. Chris explores what it really means to be honest with ourselves, to let go of the darkness of a broken past, and to heal.

He says:

True spirituality embraces all of this [life]: the beauty that is almost too much to bear, as well as the paint hat leads some to the brink of insanity. It’s all grist for the mill. We practice our asanas and mantras, prayers and aspirations, and that’s great; but are they serving to strengthen our identification as a “spiritual person” or to help us release our identification with that illusion, and in the process deepen our exploration of more than meets the eye?

I like Chris' down-to-earth approach to exploring what it means to be human. Following his story, I really connected with the idea of him as a seeker, someone wanting to grow, and let go. And his path is not easy -- he falls down, he feels hopeless, he messes up -- but, ultimately, he chooses to keep going.

I was very inspired by his honesty, and the way he embraces all of his experiences (including the road from addiction to recovery) with an open heart.

If I am to be truly responsible for myself, then I have to accept discomfort and acknowledge the aspects of myself that scare the shit out of me and make my heart sink, because this is where the true healing can begin.

These were two other passages that really resonated:

The gift of desperation
“I was blessed with what the twelve-step fellowships call ‘the gift of desperation,’ which means that I’d hit such a rock bottom that I was finally able to surrender. I had nothing left to hold on to, and nothing holding me back. I was completely bankrupt in every sense of the word – morally, spiritually, emotionally, and physically – which allowed me to completely let go. In turn, letting go allowed for true inner spiritual growth to begin.”

The fear behind the fear
“As I kept moving forward with my recovery, I began to explore the reasons I was so scared to look at the things that sucked in my life—self-loathing, fear, emotional scars, and other baggage. I began to see clearly the futile nature of fear behind the fear. And herein lies a perfect opportunity to explore why we’re scared to take an honest look at the unpleasant things in our life (besides the obvious fact that they’re unpleasant). And more importantly, to figure out what we can do today to begin making even small steps toward changing that.”

Thank you, Chris, for sharing your story, for choosing not to hide, and for being true to yourself. Namaste.

On Changes and Crying in Yoga Class

Photos via Pinterest.

Recently I reread a few of my own posts from Alive in the Fire, including this one on crying and this one on accepting what is.

I realized (over again) that it is natural for strong emotions to surface during yoga class.

If you are going through a difficult period, you may find this reflected back to you while on the mat. And keep in mind: that's OK.

It's OK to be sad, or angry, or vulnerable during yoga class. It's normal to have tears, and it's OK to be unafraid to cry. In fact, yoga allows us a great time to process life's pain and to transform it into wisdom.

In recent months, I've experienced big changes in my life. I've had times where I felt defeated, lost, alone. I've felt overwhelmed by obstacles.

I've also persevered. I've had beautiful days and amazing moments shared with loved ones. I've felt fearless. I've moved forward in my life, physically, mentally, and spiritually. 

But that progress doesn't come easily. It involves pain, patience, resolution. Moments spent in quiet, listening to the heart.

Next time you feel tears come during class, let them. Your soul will thank you later.

Namaste, and a special dose of love and light to those of you who may be suffering at this time. This post is dedicated to you, to your wellness.

Darker Days

Photo via Pinterest.

The days are growing shorter. With winter right around the corner, I'm starting to think about new ways to stay sane while spending more time at home.

Bored? Too cold to go outside? Try one of these ideas.
  • Try a new art form. If you're a photographer, try paint. If you're a writer, pick up a piece of charcoal. Let yourself express freely, with no expectations.
  • Learn to meditate.
  • Sort through old photographs. Choose one that stands out to you and write a poem about it.
  • Research free events or local museums in your area. Invite your neighbors to join you on an adventure to a concert or gallery showing.

  • Plan a road trip somewhere you've never been. Or better yet (if you're like me), plan a bike trip.
  • Try a new flavor of tea every day this week.
  • Call a family member you haven't talked to in a long time. Thank them for a quality you appreciate about them. Remind them of why you love them.
  • Host a dinner party.
  • Host a yoga party.
Photo via Pinterest.

What are your go-to activities when the days are shorter?

Spinning Fire

I am present to this moment. The sound of the flames, wind running through them. The smell of the oil as it burns. The way the heat is near: present danger, held close.

I know my place. Calm, listening to the sound of my own heart beating, feeling the energy moving through me.

I'm ready to move.

Finding the rhythm within: a glowing not wholly unlike this fire that surrounds me. Circling a dance of breath and flame, moving the hoop faster.

Every exhale a release. 

I feel as though a spark has been lit.

I could stay here forever, dancing in the middle of the night, being watched by friends, meditating in this moment. No fear or insecurity, no conscious responsibility to be a certain way, no distractions.

I am simple elemental movement. I am my own flame.

What is Sexy?

What is sexy?
It's sexy to be badass and humble, all at once. To be strong and also know when it's time to embrace surrender.

Photo by Justin Kral of Kral Studios.

I have a not-so-mainstream definition for what's sexy. Sexy is knowing yourself. Loving others. Being free.

Sexy is letting go of past hurts and treating people well.

Sexy is short skirts and hula hoops. And going for long hikes even if it's raining.

Being barefoot on the beach. Lighting candles late at night because you can. Laughing til it hurts.

Silly is sexy, I think. So is living out your dreams, and artists who aren't afraid to express themselves, and bloggers who share their true stories.

Yoga is sexy (but that's not all it's about). So is eating well, working out, and being good to your body.

What do you find sexy?


I Heard You Were a Wild One

Photos by me.

Recently, I've been learning to let go of expectations. Sometimes I throw fears and plans out the window. I'm learning to be adventurous and outgoing around new people.

Photos via LifeKamerAction.

Have you learned to let go?

Maybe you're searching for ways to change for the better right now. Maybe you could use a little adventureWell, today I'm sharing a few stories about some recent escapades I enjoyed at North Coast Music Fest 2012... feel free to imagine your way into the scenes :)

Cigarette smoke hangs in the air – the swirl of some other smells enter in – fried food, beer, grass, sweat, the sourness of it. My feet move at their own pace: step, step, these steps are easy. Navigating a path through the crowd. The path makes itself.

Or maybe it’s the hula hoop at my shoulder that clears the way: people smiling looking over, wondering what that plastic toy is doing sitting under my arm. “Hoop it! Hula hoop!” He shouts it with a big grin, and I beam back. “Alright, I’ll hoop for ya,” I say, kicking off the sneakers, setting down my bag.

And when the little circle clears and there’s enough room to find the center, I let the hoop dance its way around me. Concentric circles, spiraling upward. Joy energy radiates. I have to share this, I think, feeling the flow of the song.

Suddenly, there is nothing else: only the music throbbing in the distance, my own body moving to the beat, and this little circle of new friends made out of strangers.


Photo by  Max Herman of TimeOut Chicago.

Life changes in a moment's notice... and it how we choose to adapt. Go ahead and let go. Breathe. Experience the moment fully.

What are you waiting for?

The world is yours.

Overcoming Obstacles

Hey wonderful readers...I'm going through a hard time right now. For as much positive energy and pure light as I try to bring to this blog space at Alive in the Fire... sometimes, I am sad.



Photo by Oh Darling Photo

We all go through crazy stuff in life, and we come out the other side stronger. But at the time, obstacles can feel overwhelming. Goals, unattainable.

Stress & worry don't serve us, but we turn to them. (Perhaps at the time it's the only way we know how to cope.)

I have had my share of anxiety and suffering, that's for sure. :)

Would you do me a favor?

Send some positive love & light my way in the next few weeks.

Better yet, go ahead and share it with your close friends, too. Give more hugs. Smile because you can, not because you have to.

If you've stuck around at Alive in the Fire, hopefully you've noticed that one of my goals here is to make the world a brighter place because we all go through challenges... and we need each other to survive those challenges.

Whether you're a yogi in Chicago or New York City, a dancer in Sacramento, a massage therapist working in Kansas, a friend of a friend from London or Paris or Saudi engineer in South America... a reiki practitioner, a young person, an old person...

I'm so grateful for all of you. :)

Photo via the ballerina project.

I love you all and I appreciate so much that you take time out of your day to read my ramblings and check out the photos.

If you guys could send me your light, I'll feel it. Energy resonates. And I could use some of your positive energy these days. :)

So thanks in advance, and keep changing the world for the better! You inspire me as much as I inspire you.

om namah shivaya

Photo by Cara Brostrom.
PS if you're so inclined, you can always drop me a little digital hug via aliveinthefire at gmail dot com, too :) I adore hearing from you guys!

Fire Spinners & Drum Beats Near the Water

 Photos via my not-so-smart phone.

My friend and I checked out the Chicago Pyrotechniq full moon fire jam last night. What a fun hour standing around with drum beats drumming, dancers spinning fire, the fearless guys and gals spitting fire, strangers dancing, and the full moon in the distance over Lake Michigan.

Talk about being alive in the fire.


PS For more detailed photography of what these fiery artists can do, see here.